Seattle, Wash. — The Washington Fair Trade Coalition (WFTC) today praised Senator Maria Cantwell for challenging Donald Trump’s nominee for U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) to promote a more just and sustainable global economy.

“Voters in Washington and beyond are demanding trade policies that respect workers, families, and healthy communities” said WFTC Director Gillian Locascio.  “We appreciate Senator Cantwell’s leadership in hearings on Donald Trump’s trade nominee on this issue.”

Senator Cantwell asked of USTR nominee Robert Lighthizer:

  • There are several trade negotiations underway that follow the same flawed model of the now defunct TPP. These include the Trade in Services Agreement, or TISA, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, or TTIP, and the US China Bilateral Investment Treaty. Each of these agreements would serve to enrich multinational corporations at the expense of working people and the environment.  If confirmed as USTR, would you commit to cease negotiations on each of these three corporate trade agreements?
  • Not only is our trade negotiation process dominated by corporations, but proposals for trade deals and negotiated texts are kept hidden from the public. The proposals and negotiated texts for the TPP, for example, were kept secret for over seven years of negotiations. This forced labor unions, public health groups, environmental organizations, and the public to rely on leaked texts in order to have an idea of the trade rules under negotiation. Would you support having all proposals and negotiated texts published online in a timely fashion so the workers and the broader public that will be impacted by these agreements have a full understanding of what is being negotiated?
  • NAFTA’s investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) system has empowered multinational corporations like ExxonMobil to bypass domestic courts, turn to private tribunals, and demand taxpayer compensation for policies that affect the value of their investment. The policies that they have challenged include bans on toxic chemicals, court rulings that support access to affordable medicines, and protections for our climate. Corporations have used NAFTA’s investment rules to extract more than $370 million from governments in such cases. Pending NAFTA claims total more than $35 billion.  If confirmed as USTR, would you eliminate broad investment rules and the investor-state dispute settlement system from NAFTA? Yes or No.
  • NAFTA’s weak and unenforceable environmental and labor side agreements facilitated the offshoring of jobs so that corporations could exploit lower environmental and labor standards in another country. If confirmed as USTR, would you renegotiate NAFTA to require each participating country to adopt, maintain, and implement policies to fulfill important international environmental and labor agreements, including the Paris climate agreement and core ILO conventions? Yes or No.

“Mr. Lighthizer was disappointingly vague in his responses to these and other questions,” said Locascio. “It is long past time for new trade policies that benefit, rather than harm, the economy, environment and public health.”

WFTC is a coalition of labor, environmental, family farm and human rights organizations working together to improve international trade policy.